*** (out of 4)
Thank you, Mr. Jones! It sounds like you finally stopped listening to dummies and just did what you do best. From the intro song (appropriately titled "No Introduction"),"Life is God" finds you spouting the honest and entertaining stream of consciousness we've come to love from your previous work. Of course, it wouldn't be a Nas album without some dead weight tracks. "Reach Out,"; featuring Mary J. Blige, screams of an A&R person saying, "Oh crap, we forgot radio singles!" and could be left out. On the positive side,"Bye Baby" and "Daughters" are both standouts. The former is beyond introspective as he lays bare his issues and relationship with his ex-wife Kelis (that's her dress he's holding on the cover of the album, by the way).
For the first time in years, I can say that I can listen to a Nas album all the way through without rolling my eyes due to insipid concepts and terribly bloated track listings. A solid effort from one of the top 5 rappers ever. Life truly IS good. Pro Tip: Splurge for the deluxe edition of the record, you get 3 really dope extra songs.